Advanced Software Technologies


Postdoctorate Position 2 years Noordwijk, The Netherlands

Uploaded 29 Aug 2019

Job Description


The Software Systems Division deals with development techniques for ground and space systems. This covers all life-cycle aspects from requirements specification to development, verification, validation and maintenance. Within this division, the Software Technology Section is aiming at exploring the use of new technologies in the different areas. This covers several technologies and domain of application:

Machine Learning (ML) techniques for verification, validation and maintenance, e.g. used for the analysis of data captured during verification and validation tests (xxx), analysis of the data generated on-board to perform preventive maintenance, etc.

Planning techniques to increase the on-board autonomy, e.g. automatic rendezvous with cooperative or uncooperative targets, automatic landing on a celestial body, opportunistic science for rovers, etc.

Model-Based System/Software Engineering for a seamless development of system from early phases to design, development and verification, e.g. supporting the modelling of the systems, their refinement all along the development process, the consolidation of multiple domain models, the support of analysis, the verification of models at different stage of the development process, etc.

Interested candidates are highly encouraged to visit ESA website:

Field(s) of activities/research

The Research Fellow (RF) will be assigned on consolidating research and applying a new technology in one of the following topics.

Machine Learning: Anomaly detection

On this topic, the objective of the RF project is to study the state of the arts of Machine Learning and data mining algorithms that would make possible to detect anomalies in the data recorded during the verification and validation of space systems and apply the most appropriate one to a set of representative (or real) data. The anomalies to detect include regressions with respect to previous execution of the tests and sporadic behaviours through automatic and exhaustive analysis of test results and system of systems environment data.

Planning: Autonomous operations

On this topic, the objective of the RF project is to study the state of the arts of Planning algorithms that would support on-board autonomous operations of systems an Earth Observation constellation. The autonomy concepts shall be implemented on-board all spacecraft of the constellation in order to manage high-level requests (objectives and constraints) sent from Ground. The overall planning of user requests is distributed among all spacecraft that can rely on inter-satellite communication (e.g. using DTN). The planning shall be distributed among the constellation and a consensus shall be reached for its execution.

Model-Based System/Software Engineering: Model Checking

On this topic, the objective of the RF project is to study the state of the arts of formal verification, in order to develop and integrate model-checking techniques into ESA's Model Based development framework (TASTE, check and to demonstrate them. The approach is relying on a joint use of formal modelling languages (SDL, MSC, ASN.1) and constrained programming languages such as Spark/Ada. The RF shall assess the possibility to reuse existing languages and tools (e.g. Promela/Spin, Uppaal, BIP, IF) and define a realistic engineering work plan to design, implement and put together the tools needed for the introduction model-checking into the TASTE framework.

Other information

For behavioural competencies expected from ESA staff in general, please refer to the ESA Competency Framework.

The Agency may require applicants to undergo selection tests.

The closing date for applications is 22 September 2019.

In addition to your CV and your motivation letter, please add your proposal of no more than 5 pages outlining your proposed research.

If you require support with your application due to a disability, please email c[email protected].


Please note that applications are only considered from nationals of one of the following States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Canada and Slovenia as well as Bulgaria, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia as European Cooperating States (ECS).

Priority will first be given to candidates from under-represented Member States.

In accordance with the European Space Agency’s security procedures and as part of the selection process, successful candidates will be required to undergo basic screening before appointment

Person Specification

Technical competencies

  • Ability to conduct research autonomously
  • Breadth of exposure coming from past and/or current research/activities
  • Research/publication record
  • Knowledge relevant to the field of research
  • General interest in space and space research
  • Ability to gather and share relevant information

Behavioural competencies

  • Innovation & Creativity
  • Continuous Learning
  • Relationship Management
  • Self Motivation
  • Communication
  • Problem Solving
  • Cross-Cultural Sensitivity


Applicants should have recently completed, or be close to completing, a PhD in computer science, modelling methods, or systems (requirements) engineering. Preference will be given to candidates awarded their doctorate within past five years.

Additional requirements

The working languages of the Agency are English and French. A good knowledge of one of these is required. Knowledge of another Member State language would be an asset.